more MOO

Your Question:
May I use your idea to customize my MOO MiniCards with the ribbons ?

My Answer:
Why, of course ... . I'm so pleased you like my idea enough to try your own version!

And ... . .just in case you might desire a little more inspiration, here's more
of my own MooMadness.
The set above I did as a small portfolio of my art. Twelve different photos strung together on a piece of waxed linen, embellished with a bit of tulle and ribbon and finished with
small silver charms.

These pieces are both small ATC's (Artist Trading Cards) which incorporate a Moo photo of another piece of art, then layered and stitched and wired. The parameters for these ATC's specify only that the size be 2.5 x 3.5 inches. I obviously enjoyed creating lots of multiple layers and numerous collaged effects. Puzzle pieces, fabric, wire, tulle -- - even glass microscope slides, which enclose the Moo card below.
I just adore working in this petite format. I find these pieces to be reminiscent of the small personal portraits done in the days before photography. Since they easily fit in the palm of one's hand -- - they also have the quality of a small jewel.
A little secret .. . which requires close examination.

More repetition .
More recycled art.
[ I do regret that you can't each hold one for that close examination -
but, you can click on each image to view LARGE and see a bit of the detail]


Sculpture :: Recycled

Last year I was invited to participate in a local art show whose theme was Recycled Art.
How many places could I take that concept ? ? ! Great fun.

My interior design focus for many years has been ReThink-ReUse-ReInvent. I like nothing better than taking a pile of junk and creating something surprisingly amazing with it. Isn't that what we all do when we go to a flea market, find an odd weathered window frame and hang it on our wall. Viola ... . . instant art.

The sculpture above started out life as this simple sculptural backdrop in my living room (details, later). This very long , high ceilinged , wall cried out for something very textural and soft on a rather grand scale. I also knew I liked the idea of being able to change the focus seasonally.

A few bamboo rods + many (many) yards of wrinkled cotton muslin should be a good start. I then found some large vintage music rolls, which had started life in an elementary school classroom.

This was my first version of "How Many Things Can I Do
with a Few Sticks and A Bunch of Fabric Hanging From The Ceiling."

Soft, serene, summery ... . . and really rather Zen.
Winter approached and I was feeling the need for bit more solidity and structure. Something with an edge to contrast all that wrinkled softness. I was also mourning the loss of one of my favorite dresses - a simple black voile wisp. Alas, there were rips along the shoulder. Those rips may have been sad on a wearable garment .. . but, as a piece of sculpture - they were just added texture.

Up went a piece of foam insulation board, which I covered in leftover Caramel Silk Taffeta . My fascination with vintage music continued by ripping some pages out of a music score and pinning them between taffeta and voile. Look closely and you'll see a couple more of those pages under the black mats on the dining table, as well as crumpled around the steel balls on the oval platter. We like repetition almost as much as recycling.
The photos of this wall ended up on two of my business cards .. . . part of a series done by that wonderful London company , Moo. They'll do these adorable little cards with various pics on the front side and your contact info on the back.

I was then involved in trading small art cards called Artist Trading Cards, primarily through a flickr group. In this piece I stitched and layered a Moo card over some remnants of that muslin and caramel taffeta.
Recycled image, recycled fabric AND the repetition of the fabrics pictured in the photo.
The photo below documents what I eventually did with those Moo business cards. I felt that placing a square hole in the corner of the card with a black ribbon through it made for a much more amusing card. People really love them and always smile when handed one of these cards. It feels more like a tiny gift .. .
and several together comprises a compact portfolio.
But, I digress.
Let's get back to that first photo, of the Suspended Hearts, for the Recycled Art Show.
The fabric ball is composed of ripped strips of the wrinkled muslin, which started out life as that sculptural backdrop. After two years, new upholstery rendered it obsolete.
I took it down and ripped one panel into a very long pieces ... . which were then tied together and wrapped into a series of fabric balls.

Art : Recycled
Life : Recycled

It's really just about seeing everything with new eyes.
In today's world
the question asked should move beyond
"What is it?"
"What can it be?"


24 K. Gold Chocolate

'Tis the Season .. . . to be thinking of Hearts and Valentines
and .. . . Luscious Yummy Chocolate.

Since small luxuries seem to be the theme for 2009; what could be more delicious than taking a bite of a handmade chocolate milagro which has been delicately brushed with 24 Karat Gold??!

These insanely decadent treats are made by Hayward Simoneux at Todos Santos Chocolates and Confections, in Santa Fe's Sena Plaza. His shop is a magical jewel box of treasures which Chocolatier Magazine touted as one of the 10 best Artisan Chocolatiers in the country in 2001. Hayward is far too busy in the kitchen to bother with a website, but you'll find a great peek through this Madelyn Miller / Travel Lady Magazine article.

These gems are called After Dinner Saints.
Perfect for passing around after any special meal ... . and guaranteed
to absolve the sins du jour.

Over the years, my husband has learned that shopping for something special for me is actually quite simple: JUST SEND CHOCOLATE . ... . . and make sure it's from Todos Santos. For a recent wedding anniversary , I awoke to find this divine little treasure box waiting on my breakfast tray.

Christmas gifts included this Silver/Gold treat of two silver flaming heart milagros and a golden Our Lady of Guadelupe .

Did I mention that these small luxuries start at around $18.00 for a small single golden heart?

Now,now - just stop drooling and call Hayward.
He'll describe what's available and ship them right to your front door.

Todos Santos
125 East Palace Ave.


All photos copyright Judith Thibaut

Please don't use without permission


Como Dreams .. . Continue

Consider this post to be a bit of clarification, prompted by your most thoughtful comments and questions on the previous Lake Como post.

All these photos are of a single property - - - a Villa, which includes a main house and 3 additional houses, sitting amid a spectacular garden . A butler and house manager live on property in one of the houses, which seems to be part of the boat house. ( Great perks for their job!) Additional staff includes 2 gardeners, cleaners and a chef. I can only suppose that their view, as they commute by boat to work, looks something like this:
After spending a great deal of time researching the "Ideal" villa for my Lake Como vacation , I feel this one far surpasses any others I've seen. Let me clarify: this is my little dream ... . . so, why not go for The Very Best! No price was posted for this marvelous piece of Heaven. I feel quite sure it comes under the heading of "If you have to ask - you can't afford it." My guestimate (based on other published pricing for this type of property) would be in the neighborhood of $25,000.00 - $40,000.00 per week. Perhaps a pittance for you .. . . but quite a significant chunk for my current reality. That said ... . . know that I'm a big believer in miracles and the fact that realities can change in a heartbeat. I've experienced incredible change in my life in the past . Guess that's another way of describing life on a roller coaster. One just hangs on to see what's coming around the next bend.
Not always easy ... .. . but, it's never boring.
Aren't these photos amazing!?? (no credit was given on the agents' website - so, if the photographer is out there --- know that I applaud you) I love the fact that great attention to detail was taken and they easily allow me to place myself on the garden path, by the pool or gazing out the bedroom window. So many agents are limited with their photos or don't bother to have them professionally styled. These guys, Unusual Villa Rentals, know the wisdom of posting lots of great pics.
Small details -- - such as placing these trays by the poolside lounges and on the beds are a perfect invitation to write out a big check and declare my pending arrival.
Thanks, too, for taking the extra time to do this after dark shot. I'm a stickler for great landscape lighting and this tells me my evening experience will not be spoiled by some dreadful harsh lights.
In addition to good lighting, I've got a major thing for grass tennis courts. Not because I'm a tennis nut: just because they signify a special elegance and reference to a rare bygone time. Can't you just see ladies and gentlemen in Proper Tennis Whites on this playing ground? And .. . they would be 100% linen ( and crisply ironed by that dear staff).
No wrinkle free poly blends will be allowed!
Ahh, this bed ... . I can smell the freshness of these sheets -
along with the perfect coffee in that silver pot.
Even in my current ( simple ) life - - -
I must have a proper breakfast tray every morning.
Though I find the style of these chairs a bit prissy, I'm willing to overlook this because I find the floor inlay just divine, along with the window details (shape, color, depth of the sill - which allows for the multiple shutter feeling).
So often in pics of very good ( and very pricey) villas, you'll find that they did a great job on the master bedroom ... . . only to leave the secondary bedrooms rather sad. This photo tells me I wouldn't hesitate to assign my guests to any of these rooms. Love the way they put this brilliant pink stripe on the bench - with a slight reversal on the chair stripe fabric and the baroque feel of the headboard. This gives the room a subtle touch of whimsy, while retaining a classic feel.
Can't you just feel the polished old world solidity of those marble steps? Part of what I love about this house is the total lack of stuffiness and forced formality. Those rather rough wood shutters on the doors are the perfect touch to keep the balance between the polished marble and the tres swirly ironwork of the handrail. Look closely at the bedroom doors and the depth of the walls. Substance ... . . sublime substance! Whomever did the design renovation on this house gets a big BRAVO from moi.
This little moment along a garden path just screams (ever so quietly), sit - - - be still and feel protected, beneath the arms of this grand tree. Truth be known: I'd probably throw myself on the stone walk, gaze up through those branches ... . . and weep from pure joy.
This little door in the garden wall seems to lead to another level of unknown treasure. Perhaps to another house and certainly another perfect vista .
More subtle substance.
The weight of the door and the soft arch echo the mountains
beyond the lake.
These colors take my breath away. I'll need to stagger to the chaise lounges at the far side of the terrace and throw myself on one ... .. . before I faint. The decision to keep the chair slipcovers neutral, really allows those repeated aqua french doors to speak. Note the little balcony on the left. I long to sweep through the door, look down on the terrace to my waiting husband and say
"Darling, I'll be down to join you in just a moment .. . please go ahead and pour my champagne."


Dreams of Lake Como

I'm feeling the need for warm vistas ... . plans for a summer vacation.

Truth be told, I've been seeking the perfect villa on Lake Como for over a year. My first thought had been one of the two villas on the grounds of Villa d'Este ... . . certainly strolling their gardens with a morning cup of coffee would be heaven. I then realized that wouldn't really work for me, because I'm a privacy freak .. . . and those gardens would be available to other hotel guests. Oh , no - no - no! Even if I could bear the intrusion of others, it would require being dressed.

Coffee + divine garden with lake promenade + silk pajamas = Perfection.

This equation started my search . Then the list of requirements grew and grew.

1. Old World Charm & Great Gobs of Understated Elegance

2. Pool - overlooking the lake, with sweeping lawns and giant sheltering trees.
3. Private dock which will accommodate several boats . (the boat house roof is peeking from just below the pool)

4. Privacy. Privacy. Privacy.
The steep hill behind this villa renders it accessible
only by boat or seaplane.
5. Numerous intimate garden spaces for dining al fresco.
6. A giant bathtub in a marble bathroom ... . with a view and french doors which open to a balcony.

7. A bedroom with more french doors, a fireplace and crisply ironed sheets.
8. A staff ... .. to iron those sheets and prepare the lovely meals served on all those terraces, balconies .. . .

---- - and lakeside / poolside.
9. Views ... . especially those which allow me to recline and read and doze off in blissful relaxation.

Yes, yes!!
This one will be perfect.
I do hope we're not too late to book for a June arrival .... .. .
Pardon me - while I call to make a reservation.

( Do click on each of these photos to view large and get the total YUM factor)

Photos courtesy of Unusual Villa Rentals



[view large ]

The New York Times magically appears each Sunday morning, just beyond my front gate. Part of my morning ritual includes opening the gate (yesterday that meant stepping into my Wellies - over the pajamas - to avoid the snow on the flagstone walk) and delighting in finding it waiting .. . a true Gift ! Several years ago, when we first moved here, I attempted to subscribe -
only to be told we were too far in the country and they couldn't even find our address. Our city has grown and the Times has found us.

Such a treat mustn't be consumed all in one sitting. I save several sections to enjoy on my breakfast tray for Monday and Tuesday. Today's Travel section was headlined by an article on the new Canyon Ranch Spa in South Beach. What surprised me was that it was written by Maureen Dowd, whose usual territory is the Op-Ed page and political commentary.

This girl clearly has a way with words. In her article she questions the relevancy of luxury in our current world of economic paring down; specifically the indulgence of a spa visit.

She posed two questions which really struck me:

"Isn't it obnoxiously self-regarding to focus on "Your Transformation" - a phrase Canyon Ranch has somehow trademarked - when America has undergone a transformation into a place where vain fripperies and vulgar extravagances are met with a gimlet eye?"

"With America so busy detoxifying from its toxic greed, hubris and overreaching, is there still room for the more aesthetic form of detoxifying?"

Vain fripperies / vulgar extravagances / toxic greed ... . ..
concepts which are clearly overdue to be purged .

Perhaps with those out of the way, we can have more room
for Simplicity, Grace & Elegance.


Simply Puzzling

[view Large]

My Current Puzzlement :

How do we maintain a modicum of grace & elegance
in a world which seems
to be crumbling chaos ??

My personal motto has long been -
Courage is grace under pressure.

Guess I just needed to remind myself of that ... .. . .


Jumpstart the Slump

[ View large to see the layers & stitches & tiny hidden treasures ]

Distractions everywhere.

Holidays, road trips and the reality of a world of unreal realities.

It's been too long since I sat down with my little golden paints, sewing machine, some old sheet music and just played. A friend sent a note saying "I've missed you!"
I know she meant "your art."
So dear that someone noticed. I must say -- - it feels good to look down and see such a mess on my hands. Gel medium and walnut ink stains, mixed with odd specs of metallic.

Exhale .. .. .
I feel better.

It's really true: Art Saves Lives.


Custom Cowgirl Hat + Dairy Queen = Heaven

There's nothing like traveling through small town Texas to quiet any rumblings of personal pretentions. Much as I love much of what is termed the "latest and greatest" or uber chic - it's hard to top the classics which have stood the test of time. Fine dining and couture have its place, but there's nothing like comfort food and comfort clothing. They generally evolved from filling a need based on economy and use of resources at hand.

This stack of hats was photographed in Alpine, Texas at the Big Bend Saddlery. Just down the road from Marfa, they've been the local resource for all things needed by the local cowboys since 1905. Rather like a family hardware store with the emphasis on horses and cows and those who spend their lives dealing with those creatures. One of the basics is a good hat. Like a good pair of boots, they can be very fancy or just do the job, with style, for a much smaller investment. I love the fact that these hats have been the preferred choice for the basic hired hand cowboy for many a year. Woven of palm leaves - they're easily customized with the roll of the brim, the additional of a few grommets and the crease of the crown. They all start out as the same simple rounded version shown stacked at the bottom . The hats on top show some options as to the details which can be specified and ordered.

Here's the BEST part: your custom hat will be ready in about half an hour and the total cost will set you back about $30.00.

Have you fainted yet??!!!
I almost fell on the floor of the Big Ben Saddlery.
This may be Texas, but we're clearly not in Neiman Marcus.

Doesn't it just make your heart leap to know that pure fabulousness exists in this world for less than the cost of a decent (though not fabulous) lunch in most cities.

What does it take to go from the no-shape rounded version, on the floor, to the sharp natty version displayed on the wall? I hadn't a clue how this happened.... . . so, I asked to be shown the process. " Not a problem, mam" - says the excruciatingly courteous salesman and cowboy hat maker. I must say, Real Texas Cowboys are Old World Courteous.

After giving him directions as to my preferences , I followed him to the back room where he would work his magic.
The tools were quite simple:
a steamer and a galvanized garbage can filled with water.
The process was also quite simple: dunk the entire hat in the water to soften the woven palm base , then work in the crease and rolls with the steamer. Voila! Cowboy Chic.
Since the entire process would require about 30 minutes, he suggested I might like to take advantage of the fact that there was a Dairy Queen across the street .

Twist my arm.
An ice cream cone dipped in chocolate is true comfort food for this child of the South.

Returning from DQ (ice cream in hand and dripping), I was given further instructions. The hat was still damp and would require that it dry in place, on my head, in order to obtain a perfect fit.
Small problem. I'd be sitting in the car for the next 5 hours, until we reached our next stop - San Antonio. That perfectly turned 6 inch brim would mean I'd need to sit bolt upright for those 5 hours ... . .. no leaning back or resting my head.

Uncomfortable .. . . but, so worth it.


Beautiful Downtown Marfa

Erika has left for Antarctica .. . one of the few places more in the Middle of Nowhere than Marfa. She's a dear friend and the only person I know in this part of wind swept Texas. As a minimalist photographer, she's seeking a vaster sky in which to do time lapse photography of the moon and the melting icebergs. She's a fascinating woman ... . . and a perfect example of the kind of person drawn to this tiny town.

Just update the cars in the postcard above for a current view of downtown . As with so many small towns in Texas, the courthouse remains the center. The Hotel Paisano is still there and still taking guests. James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor are the best know previous guests, having stayed here while filming Giant.

The Pizza Foundation came highly recommended as a dinner destination. Housed in a former gas station at the center of town, its name is a play on the fact this just about everything in Marfa is some type of arts Foundation ( Chinati, Judd ... . ).
The actual dining room is in the old garage area, complete with original multiple layers of peeling paint. Tres West Texas Fresco. Make that ... . Minimalist West Texas Fresco.

There was nothing typical West Texas about the pizza and salad. It would have been more at home in Dallas or Los Angeles. Thin crust with a perfect blend of locally grown organic veggies and delicate prosciutto. There were also some meaty versions for the local cowboys.

I always feel the true test of any town is its' bookstore.
Marfa has an exceptional one.

Next stop:
Alpine -- - A Custom Cowboy Hat While You Wait !


Airstream at Prada Marfa

Whomever coined the term Middle of Nowhere had probably just been to Marfa, Texas. For travelers accustomed to zipping up the east coast of the United States, one can easily rush through three states in one day. Not so with Texas. If El Paso looks like the end of Texas - just look south into that deep point near Big Bend National Park. I quickly figured that Marfa residents would have to travel at least 4 hours to get to store which sells fresh orchids. Based on the fact that I require fresh orchids in my life ... . . I will probably never be a resident of this remote and fascianting part of the planet. This tiny town (population 2,400) has a remarkably varied history.

Movies: Giant to No Country for Old Men
Art: Donald Judd to a multitude of minimalist Wannabees
Foundations: Chinati Contemporary Art to Pizza
Strange Roadside Attractions: Prada Marfa

Actually, Prada Marfa is in Valentine, Texas ... . about a mile north of Marfa. As far as I could tell, Valentine consists of a railroad crossing and this stomp-on-the-brakes surprise. That's the whole point. When you've driven for hours and seen nothing but a few random cows and a number of rusted out former gas stations, it's quite the shock. Actually, it's a tongue in cheek art installation done by two German sculptors. And , of course, it's controversial among the locals. I'd heard of it and loved the concept, so I felt it would be a perfect photo op with the little silver bullet. There are lots of pics out there, but not a single one which included my little all American travel icon. We got out our maps and determined it would take 8 hours of virtual non-stop breakneck speed to arrive before sundown. Our calculations were precise. What we hadn't counted on was a broken down van with a lone confused rastafarian parked in front.
With 7 minutes of light left, my driver (aka - Dear Sweet Husband) knew what to do. He pulled up and quickly convinced him to move on ... . . in the name of Art.

[view large to see the reflected portrait and the bullet holes in the awning]

I also suspect he may have alluded to the fact that his crazy wife might become hysterical and throw herself in the dirt by the side of the road if she missed this long anticipated photograph.
The "inventory" of this store/sculpture includes 14 shoes (right foot only) and 6 handbags , personally selected by Miucci Prada from the 2005 collection.
Several hundred yards down the road called for another stomp-on-the-breaks snapshot.
By now DSH has become accustomed to my jumping from the car and running to the middle of a desolate road to snap another fleeting moment.
Love this great old motel sign. The actual structure has long vanished . Muchas gracias to those who made the decision to leave this reminder of another time.

Coming soon:
Beautiful downtown Marfa and the
Best Pizza You've Ever Had in a Broken Down Gas Station.